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Pope removes bishop

September 25, 2014

A Paraguayan bishop accused of protecting a suspected pedophile priest has been dismissed by Pope Francis. Earlier this week, the Vatican charged a Polish prelate for allegedly abusing minors while posted abroad.

Rom am Vorabend der Heiligsprechung
Image: picture-alliance/AP

The Pope forcibly removed Paraguayan Bishop Rogelio Ricardo Livieres Plano on Thursday after he was summoned to Rome earlier this week but refused to resign.

Livieres is a reportedly a member of the ultra-conservative Opus Dei sect. Another Paraguayan bishop has been appointed as an interim replacement.

The Vatican said removal of Livieres had been a "painful decision taken for serious pastoral reasons" to restore unity in the diocese.

Accused of protecting 'abuser'

Catholic investigators were sent to Paraguay earlier this year to probe a war of words between senior clerics who follow progressive thinking in the impoverished South American country.

Colleagues in Paraguay had publicly chastised Livieres for promoting an Argentine priest, Carlos Urrotigoity, who moved to Paraguay in 2004 after being removed from his parish in the US.

Urrotigoity had denied allegations of abusing boys while serving in the US state of Pennsylvania. The church reportedly settled that case in a civil law suit that never resulted in prosecution.

Promotion despite accusations

Urrotigoity rose to become number two in Livieres' diocese and the official responsible for investigation allegations of sexual misbehavior by priests.

The Roman Catholic Church has in recent years faced a string of charges leveled by thousands of victims and even the United Nations that it protected serial sex offenders among the clergy. In July, Francis said sorry to survivors.

More recently, the Vatican claims that under Francis' leadership it has acted to rid itself of behavior# which the pontiff has described as an "ugly crime."

Polish prelate facing trial

This week, Polish archbishop Jozef Wesolowski was placed under house arrest pending an unprecedented trial under Vatican law for alleged sexual abuse of minors while serving in the Dominican Republic from 2008 until last year.

Livieres removal underscores a deep ideological shift in the Catholic Church since Francis, a progressive, was elected by cardinals last year.

In March, Francis pressed for the resignation of Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, the-then bishop of Limburg near Frankfurt after an uproar among faithful over his expensive spending on building renovations.

Vatican watchers say it is highly unlikely that the previous Catholic head, Pope Benedict XVI, would have removed either Livieres or Limburg's bishop, who both have strong supporters among arch conservatives.

ipj/kms (dpa, Reuters, AP, AFP)

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